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Opening this week
Jackie Chan plays a former spy; Denzel Washington wanders through a wasteland
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A number of new movie releases will hit theaters this week, including the following films opening in wide release:

Photo courtesy of WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Denzel Washington stars as Eli in Alcon Entertainment’s action adventure film “The Book of Eli,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
The Book of Eli

Genre: Action, science fiction and western
Cast: Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Ray Stevenson, Jennifer Beals, Michael Gambon and Tom Waits
Director: Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes
Rated: R

In the not-too-distant future, some 30 years after the final war, a solitary man walks across the wasteland that was once America. Empty cities, broken highways, seared earth – all around him, the marks of catastrophic destruction. There is no civilization here, no law. The roads belong to gangs that would murder a man for his shoes, an ounce of water ... or for nothing at all.

But they’re no match for this traveler.

A warrior not by choice but necessity, Eli (Denzel Washington) seeks only peace but, if challenged, will cut his attackers down before they realize their fatal mistake. It’s not his life he guards so fiercely but his hope for the future; a hope he has carried and protected for 30 years and is determined to realize. Driven by this commitment and guided by his belief in something greater than himself, Eli does what he must to survive – and continue.

Only one other man in this ruined world understands the power Eli holds, and is determined to make it his own: Carnegie (Gary Oldman), the self-appointed despot of a makeshift town of thieves and gunmen.

Meanwhile, Carnegie’s adopted daughter Solara (Mila Kunis) is fascinated by Eli for another reason: the glimpse he offers of what may exist beyond her stepfather’s domain.

But neither will find it easy to deter him. Nothing – and no one – can stand in his way. Eli must keep moving to fulfill his destiny and bring help to a ravaged humanity.

The Spy Next Door

Genre: Action, comedy and family
Cast: Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, Alina Foley, Will Shadley, Madeline Carroll and George Lopez
Director: Brian Levant
Rated: PG

Lionsgate and Relativity Media’s family action comedy “The Spy Next Door” stars Jackie Chan as Bob Ho, an undercover CIA superspy who decides to give up his career in espionage to settle down with his next-door neighbor and girlfriend, Gillian (Amber Valletta).

But Bob has one more mission to complete before Gillian agrees to marry him: winning over her three opinionated kids.

When Gillian suddenly has to leave town, Bob volunteers to babysit the children so he can earn their approval. But when one of the kids mistakenly downloads a top-secret formula from his computer, Bob’s archenemy, a Russian terrorist, moves in for the attack, forcing Bob to juggle the roles of spy and prospective stepfather in the most challenging mission of his career.

The following will open in limited release.

Fish Tank

Genre: Foreign, drama and performing arts
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kierston Wareing, Harry Treadaway and Katie Jarvis
Director: Andrea Arnold
Not rated

“Fish Tank” is the story of Mia (Katie Jarvis), a volatile 15-year-old, who is always in trouble and who has become excluded from school and ostracized by her friends.

One hot summer’s day her mother (Kierston Waering) brings home a mysterious stranger called Connor (Michael Fassbender) who promises to change everything and bring love into all their lives.

The Last Station

Genre: Foreign, adaptation and biopic
Cast: Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, Paul Giamatti, Anne-Marie Duff and James McAvoy
Director: Michael Hoffman
Rated: R

After almost 50 years of marriage, the Countess Sofya, Leo Tolstoy’s devoted wife, passionate lover, muse, and collaborator, suddenly finds her world turned upside down.

In the name of his newly created religion, the great Russian novelist has renounced his noble title, his property and even his family in favor of poverty, vegetarianism and even celibacy.

Sofya is consumed by righteous outrage when she discovers that Tolstoy’s trusted disciple, Vladimir Chertkov, whom she despises, may have secretly convinced her husband to sign a new will. The document would give the rights to his works to the Russian people rather than his own family.

Using every bit of cunning, every trick of seduction in her considerable arsenal, she fights fiercely for what she believes is rightfully hers. The more extreme her behavior becomes, however, the more easily Chertkov is able to persuade Tolstoy of the damage she will do to his glorious legacy.

The conflict becomes so intense, that Tolstoy, at 82 years old, the world’s biggest media celebrity, runs away from home in the middle of the night, and his wife rents a train and follows him across Russia.

Into this minefield wanders Tolstoy’s worshipful new assistant, naive Valentin Bulgakov. He becomes a pawn, first of the scheming Chertkov and then of the wounded, vengeful Sofya as each plots to undermine the others’ gains. Complicating Valentin’s life even further is the overwhelming passion he feels for Masha, a free-thinking adherent of Tolstoy’s ideals whose unconventional attitudes toward sex and love both compel and confuse him. Infatuated with Tolstoy’s notions of ideal love, but mystified by the Tolstoys’ rich and turbulent marriage, Valentin is ill-equipped to deal with the complications of love in the real world.

A tale of two romances – one beginning, one near its end – “The Last Station” is a complex, funny, rich and emotional story about the difficulty of living with love, and the impossibility of living without it.
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